Apachean (Southern Athapaskan)Southwest ApacheanWestern ApachePine Flat Gray WareApache Plain

Type Name: Apache Plain

Period: 1500 A.D. - 1900 A.D.
Culture: Apachean (Southern Athapaskan)
Branch: Southwest Apachean
Tradition: Western Apache
Ware: Pine Flat Gray Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2014

Apache Plain was defined by Gifford (1989). Apache Plain as sometimes defined refers to utility ware forms produced during the proto-historic and historic periods by Western Apache groups in east-central Arizona (Ferg 1987; 1992; Wood 1987). The areas of production postulated for this type includes areas known to have been historically occupied by the Western Apache that includes the area bounded by the San Francisco Peaks to the north, the Mazatzal Mountains to the west, the present New Mexico/Arizona border to the east, and the northern areas of Chihuahua and Sonora, Mexico to the south. This area could potentially be expanded to include similar pottery forms in areas in New Mexico occupied by other Southern Apache groups but will require more complete analysis of gray ware forms produced in these regions (Ferg 2004).

Both surfaces of Apache Plain vessels are rough, and irregular. These never slipped, intentionally smudged, polished or painted. Surface and paste is usually dark gray to black but can be reddish brown reflecting the use of high-iron clays and firings in inconsistent reduction atmospheres. Pastes are fine, soft, and silty, and sherds tend to crumble and break easily. Temper usually consists of a fine quartz and feldspar sand with organic inclusions, but can be occasionally comprised of ground potsherds (Wood 1987). Exteriors surfaces tend to exhibit numerous small angular striations indicative of wiping. Manufacture is sometimes attributed to coiling and then finished through either scraping or the paddle and anvil technique. Surfaces may occasionally exhibit remnants of pitch deposits. Vessel walls tend to be extremely thin and rims are rounded. Vessels mainly consist of conical or pointed bottom jars with flaring rims and high shoulder. Bowls have been noted but are extremely rare. Surfaces are often plain although some examples exhibit decorations in incised lines or fingernail indentations. Examples with two or three bands of fingernail indentations around the shoulder or neck have sometimes been assigned to the Rim Rock variety. Those with all-over fingernail indentations are sometimes assigned to the Strawberry variety. Rims sometimes exhibit evidence of notching, tooling, or coil appliques. Pottery assigned to this type may resemble other contemporaneous types including Dinetah Gray, Navajo Gray, Tizon Wiped, and Paiute Brown Ware.

Ferg, Allen
1987 Western Apache Material Culture: The Goodwin and Guenther Collections. Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

1992 Western Apache and Yavapai Pottery and Features from the Rye Creek Project. In The Rye Creek Project: Archaeology in the Upper Tonto Basin, Volume 3: Synthesis and Conclusions, edited by M. D. Elson and D. B. Craig, pp. 3-27. Anthropological Papers, No. 11. Center for Desert Archaeology, Tucson.

2004 An Introduction to Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache Pottery, Arizona Archaeologists 35, Arizona Archaeological Society, Phoenix.

Gifford, James C.
1980 Archaeological Explorations in Caves of the Point of Pines Region, Arizona. Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona No. 36. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Wood, J. Scott
1987 Checklist of Pottery Types for the Tonto National Forest: An Introduction to the Archaeological Ceramics of Central Arizona. The Arizona Archaeologist No. 21. The Arizona Archaeological Society, Phoenix.